You (Actually) Can't Handle The Truth

Kurt Vonnegut write "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." Brain-pickings complements with "But given how much our minds mislead us, what if we don't realize when we're pretending – who are we then?". Brain-pickings goes on to tell the story of how Benjamin Franklin made a friend out of an enemy by asking him for a favour. The enemy actually started liking Franklin! In the book "You are now less dumb", McRaney writes "This brings us to the chicken-or-the-egg question of whether the belief or the display came first. According to self-perception theory, we are both observers and narrators of our own experience – we see ourselves do something and, unable to pin down our motive, we try to make sense of it by constructing a plausible story. We then form beliefs about ourselves based on observing our actions, as narrated by that story, which of course is based on our existing beliefs in the first place. This is what happened to Franklin's nemesis: He observed himself performing an act of kindness toward Franklin, which he explained to himself by constructing the most plausible story – that he did so willfully, because he liked Franklin after all."

But the stories we choose aren't always our own. Howard Suber, film school professor at UCLA tells the story of how he deals with people telling him their aches. He asks “What movie are you living now?” People will laugh at first. "And the laugh is a sign of recognition that the story they’ve been telling me has a recognizable structure, and once they give me that, they then usually laugh again and say something like, “Oh, my God.” I then say, as quietly as I can, “And where does the story go?” And that’s the advice I’ve given them."

But to muse on the above. The need to fit ideas in a story or a system might be a reflection of our own need to belong and fit into a group don't you think? Two aspects of the same mental pattern. We fear rejection in society and same for ideas. McRaney writes: "You can see the proof in an MRI scan of someone presented with political opinions that conflict with her own. The brain scans of a person shown statements that oppose her political stance show that the highest areas of the cortex, the portions responsible for providing rational thought, get less blood until another statement is presented that confirms her beliefs. Your brain literally begins to shut down when you feel your ideology is threatened." Impossible ! Yet true :) Good morning !